Posted by: Reena Ramos

  • 02/21/2018

A Mighty Oak Emerges: A Planned Gift by David and Tracy Fox Establishes the “Acorn Society”

When David and Tracy Fox, the first members of the Acorn Society, talk about being forward-thinking people, they really mean forward. They’re thinking a good century out.

So it’s no surprise they became life members of ACRES in 2014, and no surprise they decided they wanted to do more.

“We have seen so much growth in ACRES in the last seven years that we have lived here,” David said, “that we have used ACRES as a role model for doing things right. We’ve seen programs expand and donations come in. What we are really interested in, because I work for the state historic sites here in Indiana, is long-term sustainability.”

David is manager of the Gene Stratton-Porter State Historic Site at Rome City, and Tracy is local market manager for the American Red Cross blood services unit in Fort Wayne. They moved to the area when David left a job at the Indiana State Museum to take his current job. He met ACRES Executive Director Jason Kissel in Indianapolis and reconnected up here

White-winged Crossbill’s bills-that-cross facilitate prying for seeds held beneath the scales of pine and spruce cones, their main food. Photo by Dave Fox.

“We have been kind of keeping tabs on ACRES ever since,” he said. He sees a natural pairing in ACRES’ mission and Gene Stratton-Porter’s legacy as one of Indiana’s first environmentalists. As restoration work continues on her Cabin at Wildflower Woods on Sylvan Lake, and rare plants that she saved flourish and animals return, so rare plants flourish in ACRES preserves, and animals thrive, too, David said. He and Tracy want both the hundred-year-old Wildflower Woods cabin and ACRES nature preserves to still be thriving in another hundred years.

So together they decided to bequeath a planned gift to ACRES. What they didn’t plan on was that the timing of their gift would make them the first members of ACRES’ new Acorn Society. “It was quite a surprise,” David said, with a laugh. “I remember Jason told me he had a brand new form for me to fill out and I knew I’d be the first person to test out the form.”

The Foxes feel fine about leading the way for the Acorn Society. “It’s such a painless way to give,” David said, “and when we are no longer here, we know we will be leaving a legacy people will be able to enjoy.”

Hooded Merganser photo by Dave Fox

“We understand that non-profit organizations like ACRES need grants and donations today to operate,” Tracy said, “but you certainly need that money tomorrow, too. We felt that not only as life members, but it was really important to show commitment in the future as well to continue to protect Indiana’s heritage.”

“Having the Acorn Society allows us to formally recognize the very generous intention these individuals have for ACRES.”

Establishing the Acorn Society is an important milestone for ACRES, said Heather Barth, director of fund development. “Having the Acorn Society allows us to formally recognize the very generous intention these individuals have for ACRES. It allows us to further deepen their relationship with our mission. Since the organization’s beginning, people have made planned gifts to ACRES, but doing it formally in this way allows us to promote this opportunity to other people who might not have been aware that this is another way to leave a legacy for other generations to come.”